GenZ, Tik-Tok and First-time voters set to impact 2020 Election

As election day nears, and with early voting less than two weeks away in Texas, questions start to pop up: who will get out and vote, and which age group could dominate the 2020 election.

Graciela Blandon, a sophomore college, pointed out that it is important to pay attention and be civically involved in national and local elections. She has shown her interest in local elections by volunteering and campaigning for one of the mayoral candidates.

‘‘What is at stake is the future of younger generations,’’ said Blandon.

Moreover, Blandon, who is also a community organizer with various grassroots organizations in El Paso, sees voting as an alternative to change and reshape society. 

 ‘‘If we have a say in shaping what it will look like through electoralism, we should use it,’’ Blandon added. 

Isabel Garcia, a junior-level student at the University of Texas at El Paso also described voting as a ‘‘direct’’ impact on the future of generations to come.

 ‘‘We must vote for a candidate who will make decisions that will have a positive impact on our future, and we cannot be silent,’’ Garcia said. 

The stakes are higher for Latinxs, who are poised to be the largest ethnicity minority in a U.S. presidential election for the first time.

Texas is the second in the nation with more Latinxs eligible, with over five million eligible Latinx voters this year, according to the Pew Research Center.

Additionally,  Generation Z voters, people between the ages of 18-23, will make up a huge chunk of these numbers, making up to one-in-ten eligible voters in this upcoming elections.

Although Generation Z is a much smaller generation than the baby boomers (ages 55-73) and millennials (ages 23-38), it could be a defining age group and set the ground for future generations.

For Katie Shelley, a sophomore college student from Tampa, Florida, these two variables are a ‘‘powerful combo’’ that could potentially shift the upcoming election direction.

”Gen Z and minority groups are powerful! America is powered by the people and voting gives you a voice to change a broken system,’’ said Shelley.

Another defining factor to this election is social media, Tiktok being used primarily by younger generations, which grew globally by 800% since 2018 and about 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Youth has used Tiktok as a platform to voice their opinions regarding politics and encourage the popular vote; even those who are not yet eligible to vote.

As this girl invited eligible voters to cast their vote to “fix” the world that is “on fire,” so did Linda Barron, a UTEP student back in 2016, when she was barely 15 years.

“I stayed very informed about the debates, forums, and several other events that happened in 2016. I encouraged my family and friends that could vote to vote,” said Barron.

Generation Z is often characterized by their high-civic involvement in their communities and their activism. One of the notable examples of this generation is Greta Thunberg, the environmental activist who, even before turning 17, was already invited to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City to discuss the planet’s current situation.

Barron is an active member of the El Paso community. She has advocated in Austin “to help El Paso get health resources that are not readily available,” added Barron.

Shelley, who lives outside El Paso, considered Trump’s victory a “tragedy” since he didn’t win due to the popular vote. “The outcome was really determined by the layout of the electoral college.” 

The electoral college is a system where the popular vote does not choose the president and vice president. When a person casts a vote for one candidate, this vote goes in fact to an elector, not directly to the candidate. 

The 2016 election was the fifth election in American history where the president didn’t win the popular vote, but took the presidency.

In addition to the Presidential Race, several positions at the local and state levels are on the line. Here, El Pasoans will choose who will be the next mayor, in addition to city council members, and other positions.

That’s why community organizers just as Blandon work months and years prior election year, so they can assure everyone is involved in their local and state elections since these are crucial for the electoral college.

That’s why Garcia says she’s enthusiastic about having the opportunity to voice her opinion through voting.

‘‘…get that chance to let my voice be heard on a national level…  It feels like a very historic and important election, so it is a bit stressful for being my first one, but it is exciting none the less.”

While results for the 2020 election might not be available until a few weeks after Election Day, the deeper impact of Generation Z’s mobilization on social media and the results generated may be studied for a long time to come.